Thurston County Commissioners are proposing new rules that would either ban the sale and discharge of fireworks totally in unincorporated areas of the county, or ban the sale and discharge of fireworks when a burn ban is in effect.
The proposal stems from recent extremely dry conditions, and scores of citizens requesting a ban on fireworks.
The commissioners will hold a public hearing on Monday to allow Thurston residents to weigh in on the firework regulations. If a new ordinance is adopted, it will be enforced the following year, or 2017, according to state law.
County Commissioner Bud Blake is not in favor of changes, because fireworks are too integral to the funding of community organizations and church schools. Further, Blake said law enforcement would have difficulty enforcing a complete ban.
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“Even if we were to ban it permanently, there would be no law enforcement on this,” Blake said.
“Priority one and two calls will be addressed first by police. Fireworks is probably a priority three call.”
Monday’s hearing is likely to draw people on both sides of the debate, Blake said, but he believes those supporting a complete ban are likely to be the majority.
Still, Blake thinks fireworks should be permitted.
“Because of the revenue it brings and the celebratory stance of what our country stands for, I don’t want there to be a complete ban,” Blake said.
But some Thurston County residents see it differently. Olympia High School teacher Marion Sheridan says fireworks pose too much of a threat to be permitted at all.
“They’re loud, obnoxious, and kids hurt themselves,” Sheridan said. “I get that they’re fun, but I think that the risk is not worth it.”
Other residents support a conditional ban, in which fireworks are prohibited only when necessary. Insurance broker Curt Vaniman is an advocate of fireworks, but understands that dry conditions might restrict usage.
“I don’t think people should be kept from celebrating in a responsible, respectful manner,” Vaniman said. “There should be a ban only when there are extreme conditions.”
Thurston County presently follows state law, which permits the sale and discharge of fireworks from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. July 3 and 4, and the sales from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. June 28 to July 2.
The cities of Olympia and Lacey have banned fireworks.
Speak out on fireworks
Thurston County’s public hearing on proposed changes to the fireworks ordinances will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Thurston County Courthouse, Building One, Room 152, at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia.